Jazz festival lineup unveiled

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

Impresarios Frank and Nancy DiFelice were revelling in the moment on Wednesday as they stood in the Darling Street entrance lobby of the Sanderson Centre to unveil the lineup of something they never thought they’d see - the 10th anniversary Brantford International Jazz Festival.

It runs in downtown Brantford from Sept. 15 to 17.

But before they could launch into the lineup, a bevy of local politicians, corporate supporters and friends were on hand to take the microphone and laud the organizational duo for fashioning together what Nancy says was Frank’s vision of establishing the Brantford jazz event in 2008 as a signature festival in southern Ontario.

“Who would have thought when we started this that it would do so well,” Frank told the audience.

“But here we are.”

Brantford-Brant MP Phil McColeman attributed their accomplishment to their ability to inspire the area’s collective musical talents and take them higher.

“Frank, you and Nancy are the two greatest Canadians I have known,” he told the audience.

“You brought an element here that was lacking before.”

Brant MPP Dave Levac attributed the DiFelice success to their ability to behave like affectionate parents to performers on the area’s jazz scene.

“Frank and Nancy and I go way back. I taught their children,” said Levac, a former teacher and principal before he went into politics.

“They created this festival like the loving parents they are. This is their baby, which they’ve nurtured over the years. More important, they get the community together. This festival is the thing that elevates music in our community.”

Representing Brantford Mayor Chris Friel’s office, Coun. Dan McCreary said the DiFelices are exemplary people who project the city well on a bigger stage.

“One important element in their doing this is a significant investment of love,” he said.

“This festival puts Brantford on the map. All you have to do is look at the performers they bring here to play.”

Michael Thompson, district vice-president of title sponsor TD Canada Trust, said the DiFelices have built a festival so well that he will be bringing his family to enjoy the performances because it has a wide variety of jazz idioms that there will be something for everyone.

Eddy Day, general manager of Casino Brantford, said that thanks to the efforts of the DiFelices, OLG has been a corporate sponsor of the event for seven of its 10 years.

The festival’s headliner this year is the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, which will perform on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Sanderson Centre, along with chanteuse Brianna Thomas.

Other featured performers on the Bell Stage are:


Saxophonist Michael Massaro at 7 p.m. Massaro is a Toronto-based saxophonist, composer and producer. He has appeared with Percy Sledge, Little Anthony, The Crystals, The Five Kingsmen, the Thunderbirds and Branford Marsalis.

LMT Connection at 8:30 p.m. Veteran soul group LMT Connection has played more 5,500 shows, helmed by a front man singer/guitarist Leroy Emmanuel, who was not only an active member of Motown’s thriving music community at its height, supporting the likes of Marvin Gaye, Bohannon, and Bettye Lavette, but an artist in his own right.


The Jimmy Stahl Big Band at 12:45 p.m.

The featured vocalist is Michael Vanhevel, an up-and-coming Canadian singer specializing in the music of the 1940s and 1950s. His unique voice and repertoire include music made famous by artists such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin, Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Buble.

Tommy Ambrose at 3:30 p.m.

The creator of many of Canada’s most successful advertising jingles – including those for Labatt’s Blue, Smarties, Eggs get crackin’, and Milk – Ambrose is also well known as a club performer and broadcaster.

Will Jarvis y Amigos at 5:30 p.m.

Afro-Cuban group Will Jarvis y Amigos is led by Canadian bassist/composer Will Jarvis and features world-renowned Cuban pianist Hilario Duran, internationally acclaimed Øautist Bill McBirnie, Canadian trumpet sensation Brian O’Kane, Cuban percussion masters Jorge Torres ‘Papiosco’ and Chendy León and Colombian percussionist Juan Carlos Medrano.


Frank and Nancy DiFelice at 1 p.m.

The DiFelices’ self-styled “Little Big Band” packs a punch and has the big band sound without all the additional horns. They will perform legendary jazz music tunes and American Songbook favourites.

Carol Welsman at 3 p.m.

Welsman is an internationally acclaimed singer and pianist whose expressive vocal styling and dynamic stage presence has helped her sell more than 60,000 CDs in Canada alone, something few jazz artists in Canada have experienced.

Soul Stew at 5 p.m.

Soul Stew is a Toronto-based Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Jazz Funk ensemble. A fixture on the Toronto music scene, the group is made up of some of the finest musicians in Canada.

Also on Sunday on the Canadiana Stage are:

Denielle Bessels at 12:15 p.m.

This Indie-Swing chanteuse hails from Toronto. Her original music weaves a caravan if influences from her childhood and travels abroad from folk and blues to Parisian jazz manouche and swing.

Western Swing Band at 215 p.m.

It’s made up of Sonny Sinclair (guitar, vocals) Peter Arthur (bass, vocals), Doug Johnson (pedal steel) and Frank DiFelice (drums, percussion).

All creative musicians/artists in their own right, they combine their talents together to make music that will set toes to tapping and feet to dancing.

Cheri Maracle at 4:15 p.m.

Maracle hails from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, and is a multi-award nominated actor/singer/songwriter. She has been performing in Canada and abroad for many moons.

Her critically-acclaimed albums can be found on i-Tunes.